Playing with fire ?

By GauravL 55 Comments

Unless you are living under a rock, you will have noticed the Babri demolition conspiracy verdict. All 32 accused including the firebrand Ashok Singhal and Uma Bharti were acquitted of the conspiracy charge. A conspiracy charge is notoriously difficult to prove in Indian court even with Political will, in this case from an objective perspective, the charge was unlikely to stick owing the excessive burden of proof required to prove conspiracy.

I came across this interview of Advani with Prannoy Roy from 2000.

After six years of Modi Shah, Advani appears like a fresh of breath air (to my liberal ears). Notwithstanding his role as the prime mover of the Ram Janmabhooni movement which left trails of blood across the country, Advani appears significantly liberal to my eyes in 2020. The willingness to talk to the enemy (as seen in a range of interviews given to aggressive media), comparatively more respect to democratic ethos and institutions, and an overall soft spoken-ness.

However, the interview leaves us with the question – Is Advani telling the truth?

There seem to be three potential chain of events which led to the culmination of the demolition of Babri Masjid.

  1. The aim of the Rath Yatra by Advani was always to demolish the mosque and the previous years were spent in raising support for the demolition of the mosque. This was the narrative the most far left and far right in India believe.  In other words, the whole movement was a conspiracy under a facade of Rath Yatra.
  2. The leadership of the movement – namely Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and to a lesser extent Vajpayee under the umbrella of RSS (this included the current Prime minister) never really planned to break the mosque. Their aim was to mobilize the Hindu over and above their caste boundaries. The mobilization has political benefits as well as social benefits in response to Islam. However, during the movement, a small group actually conspired to break the mosque. That means if there was a conspiracy, either the top leadership was kept in dark or the top leadership turned a blind eye towards it. This seems to the claim made by Advani and Vajpayee where both of them on record called the demolition of the mosque as the saddest day of their life.
  3. The mass movement got carried away in hubris. After years of chest thumbing, for the karsevaks – this was the moment to go down in the history and they did.

If either of 2 and 3 is true, it is fair to say the BJP and Sangha Parivar leaders were playing with fire and when the fire got out of control it burned every one to a certain extent. Though today even if the fire was unintended, the fruits of the fire continue to be reaped.

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55 Replies to “Playing with fire ?”

  1. Perhaps I am just a cynical bugger, but I don’t buy Advani’s crocodile tears in that interview. I think it’s just the smooth maneuvers of a man who understood that the Zeitgeist was not yet with him. In 2000, even the BJP was quite liberal. It was a different India and the secular project was still largely intact.

    Fastforward to today and has Advani expressed any anguish? Has he expressed any remorse over the demolition or the building of a new temple? He had plenty of opportunities when the ceremony was under way this summer. FWIW, I am strongly pro-Mandir. I view the destruction of Babri as righting a historical wrong. What was taken by force should be rectified by the same method. Turning the other cheek is for weaklings.

    Today, a new India has emerged and people of his conviction do not have to hide their true feelings or express fake remorse. So he doesn’t.

  2. The mobilization has political benefits as well as social benefits in response to Islam.

    not in response to islam, but in response to mandal politics, which had divided the north indian hindus.

    1. Mandal recommendations were implemented in 1990 & protests and polarization started with it – wasn’t present to that extent before 90,
      The locks of Babri were opened in 1986 after Shah Bano

      1. “Mandal recommendations were implemented in 1990 & protests and polarization started with it ” — Got stuck in a court case and finally got implemented in 1992-93 if my knowledge is correct.

        1. That may be right I need to check.
          But my pt was RJB started atleast 5 years before Mandal started and hence couldn’t be seen as unifier against mandal divisions but essentially an Anti Islam consolidation

  3. VS Naipaul on Ayodhya –

    “Ayodhya is a passion. Any passion is to be encouraged. Passion results in creativity”

    “The things you [sic] mentioned are superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening”

    “The people who say there was no temple are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for that country”

    “It is not an ignoble passion at all. It is men trying to understand themselves”

    “….it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. ……..only now are the people beginning to realise that there has been a great vandalizing of India¨

    The reason I put these 5 quotes of VS Naipaul is that he was the voice of that sub-altern Indian to many European countries. Even today, there is consensus and recognition among common Europeans that the demolition was the righting of a historical wrong. And not the religious/political fascism that Indian liberals were trying to portray.

    For this voice, VS Naipaul was roundly condemned as a non-historian by Indians like Ramachandra Guha, Girish Karnad, a few grandsons and nephews of Gandhi (the real one).

    But VS Naipaul was setting the denoument to an organic drama that has been going on for 400 years. The Supreme Court judges who awarded Janmabhoomi to Ram Lalla understood this complexity and that natural justice, cannot and does not begin in 1947. Who destroyed the 2000 temples (Sitaram Goel) across North India? Who were indicted and who were convicted?

    Your “fresh of breath air”, Mr Advani was fascist in the 90s. Vajpayee was routinely called fascist by all liberal loudmouths. After Modi became PM, those two gentlemen became “liberal”. Eventually in some years. Modi too shall become liberal. This elasticity is a fitting tribute to the general cluelessness of all Indian liberals.

    1. “Breath of fresh air is” more a comparative thing anyways;
      I would even say Amit shah, not at all a liberal man has much less blood on his hands than Advani – that’s so much for appearing liberal. The riots that accompanied Advani’s chariots r no way comparable to even a Delhi riot-like incidence in terms of sheer loss of life (on both sides)

  4. I am fairly confident that Advani and Vajpayee were indeed not involved with babri demolition. Look, at the end of the day, they are politicians; why would they kill the golden goose that keeps laying the eggs? They could have kept playing the mandir card for another 20 years and come back to power. Koenraad Elst, while giving a long talk about Ayodhya says that he was able to figure out who demolished it. And he says it is not Adwani.
    See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzT1NF1KLQ0 after 1:00 hr mark.

    “After six years of Modi Shah, Advani appears like a fresh of breath air (to my liberal ears).”
    — Where have I heard this before? From the mouths of every liberal who says that the current government is communal and label it all the -ist that they can think of! Advani and Vajpayee were called all sorts of names! To me, liberals and commies are never satisfied until the utopia is within hands reach.

  5. Modi already appears liberal next to Shah and now increasingly Yogi.
    These BJP folks Vajpayee/Advani however were objectively *Liberal* on some yardsticks – especially wrt Freedom of speech. These guys also gave interviews to all sides not just their per poodles. So in some respects they were Objectively Liberal especially next to the existing dispensation with them – Congress like Sonia and others.

    Eg: wrt James Laine’s Shivaji Book Vajpayee/Advani weren’t in favour of banning the book in Maharashtra. Vajpayee had even said Answer to a book is book . Though Vajpayee had to listen to Shivsena about it and the book was finally banned.
    Thats not Modi he wasted no Time before banning the book on Gandhi in Gujarat when there was not even as much threat of violence as in case of Laine’s Shivaji Book.

  6. “Kashi and Mathura baaki hain. ”
    I hope Indian Muslims make a grand bargain with the Hindus and agree to shift the mosques standing over the sites of demolished temples in Varanasi and Mathura. It would go a long way in normalizing relations between the two communities.

    1. do u think it will stop after Kashi Mathura? if a compromise is made there?
      A section said we wanted Ayodhya – a section wants all 3; a section always wanted more than that.
      even Eaton says at least 80 temples are destroyed in recorded history – I would wager the real number to be over 1000.
      Qutub Minar complex for sure is lying over at least a dozen temples.

      1. Sure, it can and should go on and on until every recorded mosque built over a demolished Mandir is shifted and the Mandir restored. There exists lots of land in India where no temple ever stood and mosques can come up for Muslims.

        I feel this is a fake argument made by liberals to trivialize the Hindu faith and our age old feeling for the sacred geography of India. This is a lame attempt to paper over the heavy hand of oppression and civilizational defeat that these mosques built over temples symbolize even today.

        That Delhi, the capital city of India and the historical seat of power in the North for millennia, does not have any grand Hindu temple older than 70 years is a much bigger injustice than Muslims being inconvenienced by having to move around a few mosques. Feelings of minorities matter but not at the cost of the rights and freedoms of the majority community and especially not if such a minority whole-heartedly seeks to identify with the ethos of medieval invaders who despoiled India.

        1. Is this just a thing you say when you get enough excited and agitated? or is it a well thought out theoretical or Ideological position?
          or are you really willing to sacrifice something/someone you hold dear for this fantasy ? this won’t be cheap for the country to bear that much I can be sure of

          1. My position is that Indian Muslims should unilaterally hand over Kashi and Mathura. The temples at these two sites are very egregious examples of Aurangzeb’s fanaticism and hatred of Hindus. These are the lands with a lot of salience for Hindus and justice demands that the mosques there should be shifted (shifted and not plain demolished) out and the temples rebuilt. The only reason for Muslim intransigence in these cases can be because of the imperial pride they feel in seeing these mosques stand over a demolished temple.

            Otherwise a consistent legal effort (court cases, constitutional amendment to remove “Places of Worship Act”) to get these back should continue along with other such cases anywhere else in India.

            Also the bogey of “rioting Muslims” should not get in the way of justice. Should we continue to not do the right thing just because a particular community wants to stick to a supremacist ideology and could potentially create trouble? I hope not. This was not the way India unshackled the chains of the caste system and gave Dalits a chance to be free and equal citizens.

        2. This is woke on a whole new level. Doesn’t this just open a free-for-all political revanchism where dalits and adivasis are justified in destroying anything symbolic of contempt for them? They have a stronger case rooted in recent history. I come from one of the evil landowning communities and find it all avoidable.

          1. There is good thread on this topic by Shrikant Krsnacsrya.
            I agree with girmit – I don’t support this revanchist attitudes because I firmly believe this won’t end well if allowed to run its full potential .
            RJB had a function for awakening the Hindu consciousness I would add – though I wouldnt have supported it myself the way it happened. But this will have diminishing return IMO for society as well as polity

          2. “Doesn’t this just open a free-for-all political revanchism where dalits and adivasis are justified in destroying anything symbolic of contempt for them”

            Please give some real life examples rather than a hand-wavy argument like this. What exactly are the monuments in modern India which are symbolic of contempt for Dalits? Which recent history of systemic oppression are you referring to?

            Hinduism doesn’t work like Islam. Its an amalgamation of tribal traditions from all over India rather than a top down, forced imposition of a certain tradition.

          3. janamejaya,
            By the standard that a mosque from 500 years ago is symbolic of hindu oppression, there are quite a few things like temples that barred entry to lower castes until recently. do you not know of any? Some people are convinced that M Gandhi was a racist and casteist, maybe they’d like to see institutional names changed, statues removed. This is not to speak of the possibility that hindu temples like tirupati or kolhapur mahalaxmi were built on earlier shrines, usurped local subaltern gods, or jain/buddhist sites. In the case of islam, it does seem as though they are clear (at least until a century ago) in perpetuating the story of their conquest over lesser faiths, whereas hinduism dominates through assimilation. Its worth noting that anyone can become a muslim, whereas if you are a shudra/dalit your exclusion is immutable. Which is worse to you, a rejection of your entire personhood or your beliefs?

  7. Advani was an opportunist. He was never really a Hindutva guy, in sense Modi, and more importantly Shah or Yogi are. Modi too is more sold on becoming statesman than Hindutva guy TBH. In that sense he is more like Advani than Shah.

    To understand Advani turn from Hindutva to liberal, is to understand Advani’ caste and community. He is a sindhi who’s own community lives in Pakistan, a refugee with no vote block to call its own, unlike his early competitors Vajpayee , Bhairon Shekhawat or Rajmata Scindia. So he latched unto a bigger identity than caste identity. The Hindu identity. If caste would have given him power, he would have latched unto it, if liberalism gave him power he would have latched unto it(just like he tried with Jinaah etc)

    With the rise of Modi, and decline of Vajpayee he tried to fill the Vajpayee space, but he lacked both the finesse of Vajpayee and the Hindu zeal of Modi-2002. So he slipped into the cracks. He lacked the latter believer zeal anyway. If u watch the videos of pre Mosque demolition videos u could see how apologetic and on the edge he is, where he doesn;t want to egg on his followers to do something which will put him into trouble. Vajpayee apologetic-ness is understandable since he wanted to make an omlette without breaking eggs, but Advani really looked a fish out of water just b4 pre and post 92.

    “James Laine’s Shivaji Book Vajpayee/Advani weren’t in favour of banning the book in Maharashtra. Vajpayee had even said Answer to a book is book”

    Just affirms the point that Advani/Vajpayee wanted to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. Since Shivaji has no impact outside Maharashtra, they had no impetuous to call a ban on the book. SS and NCP did. So did Modi with Gandhi and Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah book. At the end of the day, all politics is local.

    1. Bhakt !! 😂😂

      Frankly so tired of being labeled by my woke friends , that I just accept the worst label which comes my way.

      Personally fiscal conservative and a democrat ( first and foremost) .

  8. “Temples that barred entry to lower castes until recently.”
    None after 1947 and quite a few had reformed even before then. This is actually strengthening my point rather than weakening it. Upper caste Hindus have tried hard to reform themselves and bring Dalits into the mainstream. Affirmative action in politics, jobs and education institutes has had long support amongst upper castes. Today, noone is proud that such exclusionary practices existed. The same cannot be said for Muslims at all. Why should Muslims have any feeling for mosques built by foreign invader atop demolished Mandirs? Does a modern day Indian Christian have any such feeling for the buildings of the British Raj? No, it laughable except in the case of Muslims. Muslims should have unilaterally offered to shift their mosques from the holiest Hindu sites if they every truly wanted good relations with the Hindu community.

    “Some people are convinced that M Gandhi was a racist and casteist, maybe they’d like to see institutional names changed, statues removed.”
    We are not discussing idiots here, are we? You bringing this example up shows that you do not actually have any real, good examples to lend weight to your arguments.

    “This is not to speak of the possibility that hindu temples like tirupati or kolhapur mahalaxmi were built on earlier shrines, usurped local subaltern gods, or jain/buddhist sites.”
    These are not credible or the stories invent Hindu malfeasance where none existed. Its mostly stories built up by leftist historians to discredit Hinduism and show that its similar to Islam in iconoclasm when it actually is very different. And what do you mean “usurped”? Tribal deities when they find a place in the Hindu pantheon are no less than more established Gods. Its a relationship of equals.

    “In the case of islam, it does seem as though they are clear (at least until a century ago) in perpetuating the story of their conquest over lesser faiths, whereas hinduism dominates through assimilation.”
    Noone can “dominate through assimilation”. Its just impossible. I think your mind is so full of bullshit leftist, Hindu hating jargon that you seem to have lost the connection to reality. These arguments may seem very deep and final in the hallowed halls of Indian leftist academia but surprise, surprise when the rubber meets the road in the real world, noone buys them.

    “Its worth noting that anyone can become a muslim, whereas if you are a shudra/dalit your exclusion is immutable. Which is worse to you, a rejection of your entire personhood or your beliefs?”
    Hindu society has shown itself amenable to reform in most amazing ways and profound ways at the cost of severe short term pain to itself. You have to define Hinduism by what Hindus do and belive now, and not what old books say. These arguments might have had validity before 1947, but now they do not.

    Also Indian Muslim society has its own problem of caste which unlike the Hindu problem is also tinged with racism. No upper caste Indian Muslim ever talks of pasmandas but would go whole hog over the evils of Hindu caste system at the drop of the hat. Has any Indian Muslim ever shown any inclination to promote the interests of lower caste Muslims at the cost of Ashraf Muslims feeling the pinch?

    1. Muslims should have unilaterally offered to shift their mosques from the holiest Hindu sites if they every truly wanted good relations with the Hindu community.

      Do u think it’s as simple as that ? Like In case of land acquisition it takes only a handful to legally resist.
      Before the RJB started a solution could’ve been had and after the mosque demolition as well it’s not as if there is referendum for muslims to decide whether the Mosque can be shifted out right.
      Once the wheels of the Advani’s chariot began leaving it’s trail of blood – even uninterested Muslims became polarized – it’s actually documented very extensively.

      And the way these conflicts r framed it’s bound to happen in that way – that’s not to say their isn’t Islamic supremacist angle to the part – unwillingness to compromise and unwillingness to let even an Inch of Muslim land go. Those streams r dominant – but them becomjng overarching or not is ALSO thought not exclusively a Function of Reactionary Hindutva.

      Finally this all comes down to whether one is willing to sacrifice innocent lives jeopardize the future for sake of Civilizational Revanchist goals intent on further humilating the Muslim community ( that may not be the aim for most but certainly will be viewed as such) OR Accept the lessons of history and move on with a circumspect eye. This moving on is not Gandhian Pacifism but especially after RJB verdict – taking a win and call it a Day.

    2. Janamajeya, you are all over the place with your response and haven’t really understood the point. Your civilisational angst is just one of many we encounter, and I’ve only stated what may be the consequences of seeing it through. I share little of the passion of either dalit liberation politics or hindu nationalism. BTW, temple entry reform was within the lifetime of many people who are still alive (more recent than 500 years ago, got it?). If you dismiss out of hand that it still doesn’t exist, you are blind, barely know the country, or just arguing in bad faith. We still have ridiculous traditions you can read about in prominent temples like kukke subramanya. The authority with which you make generalisations about hinduism is ridiculous, on one hand its a non-hierarchical amalgamation of tribal faiths but yet it has such coherence that you can attribute this general benevolence to every aspect of it. That you’ve confused me with a leftist suggests your trained reactionary stance to anything that dissents from your priors. There isn’t much to distinguish your litigation of hindu innocence from a campus SJW critical race theory acolyte.

  9. lol Jains and Buddhists aren’t up in arms about these supposed atrocities, if they even happened which is heavily questionable to the degree radical leftist and Pak nationalists would want in order to equate Hinduism with Islam in a historically oppressive sense.
    Jains and Buddhists are chill within dharmic fold. And Hinduism’s exclusionary practices are ending,albeit slowly. Lower castes are now becoming priests in places like Tamil Nadu. Change is happening. Dalits have improved their position tremendously.

    Also, idk how much of this caste stuff is purely Hinduism or just S Asian tribal culture. Pakistanis are quite casteist themselves. Most of the victims of the recent human trafficking to China are dalit covert Christians. The anti Hindu vibe in Pak is also said to have a caste angle with the mostly dalit and other lower caste people left there. Sikhs are casteist too in practice.

    Reform needs to be there for sure all over. Yes doctrine wise Hinduism looks worse but who the heck is following doctrine to T. If arabs did witb Islam, they wouldn’t have been the biggest slave traders in the history of mankind. Granted, maybe idk Islam that well. Maybe that is sanctioned in some way? Well it could be a convenience thing. People love to bring up Mohammed and Bilal story with all the BLM stuff going on

    Out of curiosity Girmit, are you Khalistani or Sikh nationalist. You sympathize with our resident racialist’s views, downplay caste atrocities of Birdari communities, upplay Hinduism’s casteism and Islam’s “liberalism,” and use the same arguments of Pak nationalists to equate Hinduism and Islam in the sense of historical atrocity.

    1. I wouldn’t be so confident about Neo Buddhists. They bring that Mahisasur thing up every year on durga puja. Complete assholery but they still do.

      Abt Jain’s yeah – like most MH ppl I hace more than a dozen Jain friends – most of their households also celebrate Ganpati in Pune – almost indistinguishable except for some dietary rules from other upper caste Hindus.

    2. warlock, that jains are not up in arms about it is the whole point. There’s ample literary evidence of hostility directed at jains in the past, (consider the 14th century basava purana of somanatha as an example). But jains are too busy doing big things in business and philanthropy to mine the past for insults. I think at the end of the day thats what reigned the sikhs in as well, they have a winning mindset, even their martyrs are symbols of defiance not excuses for societal failure. I’m not sikh btw, and as a deccan non-brahmin i’m probably more AASI/ less steppe enriched than you. I mention that my people have probably been shitty to dalits, by way of upholding social taboos and benefiting from their labor on unequal terms. Acknowledging this doesn’t make me a radical, but its not fair to pretend I’m above the fray morally, nor is my entire life going to be devoted to righting every perverse social custom around me. Most of us will just try and act with decency and not block the progress of communities trying to raise themselves up through positive ways. Lastly, I notice that just the suggestion that islam might have an egalitarian edge elicits all types of counters about their hypocritical enduring hierarchies. I know all of this, have made the argument myself many times and can agree in the abstract. However in terms of characterization of south asian islam, you might be drawing greatly on your experience with racialist pakistanis, and eliding a more apples-to-apples comparison that could be made within a single region. I do feel there are degrees of difference between religious communities in these qualities. If we can’t learn anything from others then it doesn’t speak well of us.

      1. Lets not gang up on Gaurav.
        @Girmit

        On the point which warlock made on Hindu atrocities on Jain/Buddhists is NOT beside the point. Who talks about this atrocities matter. Why are folks who talk about this white and UC liberals, are they jains or buddhist whose folks suffered those atrocities? Did Trusckey, Thapar ,Jha, Eaton, and the whole host of Dravidans and Bengalis Bhadlralok folks faced atrocities from Hindus? Can i speak on behalf of dalits, then?

        And it does not matter what Basavanna said or didnt say. Whether Jains or Buddhist or sikhs are over their prosecution in the hand of Hindus , is purely their matter and their matter alone. They may or may not take arms. And they should decide that. They dont seem to mind, but somehow our Basavanna of todays, seem to find atrocities on Jains. LOL

        At the end of day he is a Jain and u aren’t

        1. Personally I feel beyond a point history is just used as a guise for current conflicts – because Jains and Sikhs (though that’s changing) have less conflict with Hindus – real or imagined historical wrongs r glossed over.
          Jains should not be even called minorities – There is lot of cross religion marriages with Jains-Brahmins these days. Some even arranged. Recently my Jain friend in US held an E-Ganapati-Arti for us – not something my brahmin friends did. So there is no incentive to bring up those real or imagined historical wrongs

          Similarly a large part of Temple movements can also be seen also about showing the Muslims their place along about so called civilizational justice. Though that’s not a view(Marxist like) I totally am board with though I see its merits.

          1. Jains know how to play the game. Something one learns when they need others for their defense because of ahimsa gone too far

          2. thewarlock:
            These are all convenient explanations that seem profound..
            The simple explanation is that Jains don’t see themselves as socially or culturally separate from “Hindus” (Hindus in quotes is deliberate) and are not seen as separate by their neighbors (People in other parts of the country where there are no Jains may think differently because they don’t have a real model of how Jains are part of the society). This is the reason they are simply referred to as Vania, Bania or Mahajan almost everywhere they are in any numbers historically (in Gujarat only if further specificity is required will they be called Jain Vania or often by their particular caste like Shrimali etc which often also includes Vaishnavs)..
            In India people have always been used to castes/communities doing their own thing – Swaminarayans, Lingayats etc and Jains fall in the same spectrum. There is no distinction at that level, nor is one needed.
            Oversmart explanations are just that (Sorry I do get irritated by complex explanations of simple phenomena :))
            As for Ahimsa etc, Vaishnav Vanias, Brahmins etc were also not ones to fight in wars. Think of Jains as a caste sociologically and it all makes sense..
            This type of othering of Jains by jains and others is a new concept and not one that needs to be encouraged..And the Left wing is totally behind it which tells you most of what you need to know

        2. saurav, what does this whole matter of who gets to speak for whom have to do with anything I stated? It’s almost as if you interpreted that I was *advocating* something.

  10. Just lol of Islam being a panacea of status equivalence in S Asia or even Sikhism. That’s a dream. AASI people are treated like crap no matter what. The Birdaris still exist for a reason and are still used by politicians to sway shit. Equality is a matter of reforming all of S Asian culture to respect more AASI people as equals. Hindus at least recognize the need. Maybe because their shit is codefied and this easier to shame for Lefists.

  11. I agree with Girmit though. At this point, just accept the history as done. Ram Mandir is enough of a symbolic victory. Time to move on.

    And Gandhi had some fucked up views for sure. But what he did was pretty wild. Hence why people like Dr. King respected him. Also, his views evolved through his life. I just cannot forgive his weird rape stuff. He exploited his own nieces. That really disgusts me. Also, he took Pacifism and deindustrialization too far.

  12. @GauravL

    I read your comments on this thread and throughout you keep referring to some kind of vague cost that Indian society has to pay unless we forget the past and stop seeking redressal for historically documented acts. Again I am reproducing 3 of your vague examples of “log kya bolenge?”

    “Finally this all comes down to whether one is willing to sacrifice innocent lives jeopardize the future for sake of Civilizational Revanchist goals”

    “But this will have diminishing return IMO for society as well as polity”

    “I don’t support this revanchist attitudes because I firmly believe this won’t end well”

    This is classic Indian marxist end-state assumption based on dogmatic assertions. Where is your data? What do you imply – lower economic growth? In fact, India has clocked its highest ever growth rates (over 150 years) in the three decades after Babri. It was not just the three domes of Babri that fell down – it was a whole order of Nehruvian state control of history, dialogue and stifling political growth. The Indian political scene went from being unipolar to multipolar and then eventually a diarchy. India is better off for it.

    The reason BJP benefited from 1991 is not a straight line equation of cause and effect. Society saw the benefit of dismantling the old order – with all its bloated narratives and handing the control over to the challenger. This is in Rawls and the Hobbesian worlds – a perfect liberal order.

    You, in spite of protestations of being a liberal, do not seem to understand the social theories of liberalism and its relation with politics. You live in some sanitized world where revolutions are bloodless and changes are painless.

    1. This is classic Indian marxist end-state assumption based on dogmatic assertions. Where is your data? What do you imply – lower economic growth? In fact, India has clocked its highest ever growth rates (over 150 years) in the three decades after Babri. It was not just the three domes of Babri that fell down – it was a whole order of Nehruvian state control of history, dialogue and stifling political growth. The Indian political scene went from being unipolar to multipolar and then eventually a diarchy. India is better off for it.

      I didn’t and don’t talk about economics beyond a point – as illustrated by history majoritarianism can accompany rapid economic growth – from Third Reich to current China. That’s not my point. However Indian growth has everything to do with 1991 reforms and globalization and nothing to do with RJB.

      Lets take example of CAA – I personally feel BJP wasted a lot political capital on CAA which is just an empty thing on ground. Had they not done so they would’ve had lot more political capital to bring in farm reforms and a lot more.

      You, in spite of protestations of being a liberal, do not seem to understand the social theories of liberalism and its relation with politics. You live in some sanitized world where revolutions are bloodless and changes are painless.
      Who said revolutions r bloodless and painless – stop putting words in my mouth – Thats exactly i reason i am skeptical of revolutions from the left or from the right and support the British-middle path towards change which is incremental

      At a point adults need to move on – take RJB as an acknowledgement of historic wrong and move on – that is my point.
      There were 10000+ lives lost directly as a result of Ram Janmabhoomi- You may feel its worth those lives lost – Hindu and muslim both I don’t & hence dont want to go through anything even 10% of that again.

      Personally i always felt Kashi/Mathura as historically much stronger case than RJB (whose history is more obscure). Ugra – But lets say those are granted – do you want another another 100-200 more temples ?

      1. Gee man, Gaurav……I thought that 10000+ lives (and in fact many more) were lost as a result of the heinous actions of Babur and Aurangzeb. But here you are, pretending that history only began in 1947.

        Reforms were tried out in India starting from 1984 onwards by the Rajiv Gandhi government. They failed spectacularly, thanks to the absence of a viable opposition and ideological confusion within Congress ranks. The only reason, that the 1991 reforms succeeded and sustained out to a period of 2 decades because of political flux and the rise of a second pole (BJP) in Indian politics.

        Not just reforms, the nuclear tests and hardening of Indian strategic posture, building expressways as a means of rejuvenation, rethinking of Indian diplomacy (Israel and Look East). Even today that the UP-Bihar belt is seeing better development is because of the consolidation of Hindutva forces against casteist forces (Laloo, Mulayalam etc). So RJB was not just the breaking of those 3 domes, but the whole statist defeatism that pervaded Indian polity and economy.

        It is not the number of temples that matters, but the act of reclamation. Every new act convulses society and out of that convulsion, arise greater forces that upend traditional society and mores of thinking.

        1. Not just reforms, the nuclear tests and hardening of Indian strategic posture, building expressways as a means of rejuvenation, rethinking of Indian diplomacy (Israel and Look East). Even today that the UP-Bihar belt is seeing better development is because of the consolidation of Hindutva forces against casteist forces (Laloo, Mulayalam etc). So RJB was not just the breaking of those 3 domes, but the whole statist defeatism that pervaded Indian polity and economy.
          It is not the number of temples that matters, but the act of reclamation. Every new act convulses society and out of that convulsion, arise greater forces that upend traditional society and mores of thinking.

          If this is your assertion then its already done surely and it would seem this fails to buttress the demand for more mosques being shifted – there would be diminishing returns !
          I don’t agree with this assertion – seems you have just fitted Hindutva projection on events retrospectively.

          I thought that 10000+ lives (and in fact many more) were lost as a result of the heinous actions of Babur and Aurangzeb. But here you are, pretending that history only began in 1947.

          This is an extremely gormless point. Swarajya or Democratic Self rule began in 1947; If you cant differential between imperialist rules and Democratic self-rule then there is no point writing further. You could even extend this to our Sapiens ancestors who genocided the Denisovan/Erectus related hominin on entry into the subcontinent – But there you would see the stupidity of the argument – but not wrt Pre Independence history.

          1. “If you cant differentiate between imperialist rules and Democratic self-rule then there is no point writing further.”
            Oh really? So there is a difference between the democratic self ruled India and the one ruled by “imperialist” rulers.
            If only we were not constantly bombarded by supposedly leftist elite that Turks and Mughals were lovey-dovey, cuddly, liberal and secular rulers taking up the “Steppe-man burden” and trying to enrich India culturally, we might not have gotten confused.
            I have to agree this Nehruvian liberal project was well-intentioned. (India began a new age in 1947. Caste, and religious divisions of earlier years should give way to a brotherhood based on Indian citizenship.)
            But its grave was dug up by Indian Muslims who never gave up on their Islamist fantasies and kept idolizing foreign invaders and their supposedly leftist academic enablers (Historians Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar etc). The Hindu right wing now is only taking up Muslims and leftists at their words. The desecration of history by leftists and Islamists has come to bite them in the ass.

          2. If only we were not constantly bombarded by supposedly leftist elite that Turks and Mughals were lovey-dovey, cuddly, liberal and secular rulers taking up the “Steppe-man burden” and trying to enrich India culturally, we might not have gotten confused.

            I am not here to defend history writers – their work speaks badly of them especially wrt Ram mandir. So that argument doesn’t stick with me
            But even then such arguments r often Strawman – I remember the history taught as well as anyone – Mughals other than Aurangzeb were glorified to a certain extent – especially Akbar – but none of the Delhi Sultanate rulers and certainly Ghazni and Ghori aren’t glorified in any textbook. If you feel they are – find me a textbook which glorifies these invaders.
            The amount of Pent-up-angst on display against this history is incredible & largely exaggerated by years of amplification on social media – The actual textbooks weren’t what you imagine them being – look back at them once. I recently saw 2010ish NCERT Books – this caricature is grossly exaggerated.

            While it’s fair to say the Marxist view OVERemphasizes class struggles and economical factors over
            Yes, the complete picture wasn’t given – but now you can see the truth for urself right – how long will people keep blaming what did or did not exist in textbooks?

            But its grave was dug up by Indian Muslims who never gave up on their Islamist fantasies and kept idolizing foreign invaders and their supposedly leftist academic enablers (Historians Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar etc).
            You talk with certainty as if you have seen referendum/surveys of Indian Muslims. What Habib/Thapar have done is not something I condone – but where is glorification? Apart from Mughals – Thapar’s biggest crime (apart from RJB) is her Somnath work where she doesn’t glorify M.Ghazni but tries to belittle his crimes/motivations. In other words, she doesn’t take the braggadocio of Ghazni at face value and understates Islamic zealotry. While there may be fair criticisms in that I don’t think that qualifies as Glorification

  13. It’s pretty sad if you look at it from an American perspective. One group of Mexicans (generally used as slang for non-White LatAms) is Muslim, and the other group Hindu. They’re both of the same racial background and yet, they kill each other/hate each other over perceived differences that aren’t anywhere near as pronounced as they think. IMO, religion should be entirely done away with in the subcontinent, and people should all become atheist or in the worst case scenario, “Spiritual” in the most liberal sense. Orthodox belief systems are the last thing we need to burden an already overburdened region, where people are struggling to survive on a daily basis. Religion AKA woo-woo serves no purpose in this context, other than to foment social unrest and chaos. All of these self-righteous Brown folks are at each other’s throats, defending their faith as if it were their salvation. All along, South Asia limps along like a lame goat, underdeveloped and without any clear path towards success.

    Meanwhile, the OG Muslims from the Arabian peninsula (who are Caucasian) watch from the sidelines and laugh, enjoying their oil wealth, knowing perfectly well that the “Brown non-White Muslims” of the subcontinent are way below them in the pecking order (an order that these Arabs themselves have created). The Muslim faith of these South Asian converts is of no consequence to them, they are non-Arab first, Muslim second. They are racist bast*rds of the first order. In fact, I recently saw a video of an Arab cleric proudly proclaiming that the ones who converted to Islam, either willingly or unwillingly, are the most cowardly and despicable people, as they were not born into the original group of people who were the flag bearers of the faith. They had to be saved by having the message of salvation (read: religion of piss) brought to them. And this makes them not much better than inferior beings who exist simply as second-class citizens in Islam. Look at the treatment of Muslim South Asian laborers in Dubai.

    This makes me quite angry, knowing that these camel-urine drinking nomads proselytized and spread their noxious religion with the implication that it was more “equitable” and inclusive than Dharmic faiths. And yet, after converting masses of Brown and Black peoples, they now refer to them as Mawalis and use other choice terms to deride them and exclude them from their fold. They fractured the social fabric of South Asian society, converting and killing masses of people, and causing the partition of the region into multiple failed states. Afghanistan was the first to fall, then the NW region and eventually, different parts of the hinterlands. Of course, much of the forced conversions occurred under the aegis of the Turks and Mamluks and Mongols, with Arabs only making a few inroads into Afghanistan and NW South Asia before being repelled, but it stands to reason that their Islamic crusade that had its origins in Arabia left an indelible, malignant cancer of a legacy in South Asia. One that caused irreparable damage to the unity and prosperity of the diverse peoples that reside in the region.

    Sometimes I wonder if Muslims in the subcontinent are aware of these facts, and if they are, it makes you wonder why they have continued to keep their faith in the first place — not only do they still have a caste system, but the entire power structure of the Islamic faith is rooted in a foreign land, one dominated by the most tribal and patriarchal society on earth. A society that looks down upon even Iranians and Turks and other non-Arabs, and that has a hierarchy of race even within Arab society, dividing Qahtani and Adnani Arabs into different levels of superiority. Of course, its funny to see them espousing such ideals of racial superiority, especially when they are admixed with the very people they despise the most (Sub Saharan Africans). But then again, nothing really makes sense in the world of Islamic Arabia. #PissBeUponHim

    1. Sometimes I wonder if Muslims in the subcontinent are aware of these facts, and if they are, it makes you wonder why they have continued to keep their faith in the first place

      you think thats how human work – about their ingrained culture/religion ? Humans dont decide @ 18 i am an atheist/muslim/hindu – atleast in India – Thats the world Dawkins wants and to certain extent in US with church mosque jumping its becoming reality.

      I dont always agree with brining in caste in such discussions but this point seems right so i will;
      As illustrated by many – Hinduism was particularly pernicious towards Dalits. Their great Leader took to Buddhism as a way out wont die a hindu . It would make sense if majority of Dalits converted out of oppressive faith into faith that “seemed” egalitarian. But as many – listen to Abhinav Prakash/Guru Prakash have pointed out – Even lot of Dalits objected to converted out of Hinduism. Today by most standards, lot of Dalits r more comfortable with their Hindu Identity than most educated brahmins/banias.

    1. thanks for explanation above. Makes sense. Weren’t the tirthankars mostly kshatriya? Probably vegetarianism was just easier for merchant castes because farmers and warriors have kills hit by default and priests already at the top and with much invested has no reason to convert.

      1. thewarlock:
        They were all supposed to be Kshatriya. Yes, it’s just easier for merchants to be vegetarian compared to any other group. However, there are many kings / warriors who were patrons and even followers of Jainism throughout history (even in the deep South – Karnataka especially). Rajasthan has recorded history of Rajputs becoming Jains at various points (and many current day gotras of Jains from Southern/Western Rajathan/Mewar are straight up Rajput ones)..
        However, there are many many non-Jain Hindu groups that are traditionally vegetarian/pacifist and no one expects them to be fighting on the frontlines..Similarly no one expected Jains to sign up for that – heck in Rajasthan for example it was only the Rajputs that staffed the armies – they would have objected to others joining in large numbers and taking their jobs 🙂 Separating Jains out from the Hindu society doesn’t make any sense historically or even now, although all identities are becoming more exclusionary in modern times and Leftists encourage this for various reasons…
        Will give you the example of Amit Shah who is clearly a Vaishnav Vania and not a Jain Vania and he has himself said this many times…What do the Leftists do to discredit him and in the process Jains: “Amit Shah is a Jain – what right do you have to speak for Hindus/temple etc?” So in one stroke, they are trying to delegitimize Jains as part of “Hindu” society to create a cleavage AND also encouraging hatred towards Jains who they perceive to be the wrong kind of “minority” as they are not perpetually aggrieved or anti upper castes..

  14. I just cannot forgive his weird rape stuff. He exploited his own nieces. That really disgusts me.

    Are you talking about his “mental celibacy” fixation?

    Bit of a stretch to call it rape when it’s consensual and also there is no sexual intercourse.

    https://m.timesofindia.com/india/The-Mahatma-in-the-bedroom/articleshow/5879539.cms

    I dislike this overly ascetic focus in Indian culture sometimes. But it’s what unites people, this is why Modi tries to cultivate a similar pious image.

  15. Regarding Indian Muslims, any grand bargain with them has to focus on attitudes towards women and religious/racial supremacism rather than mosque/temple handovers. Hindutva wont be beneficial to India long term unless it pushes Indian Muslims to become more liberal.

    For Hindus themselves, Hindutva means little in terms of their own religious practice, which has never been proscribed in any real way. Some Hindistanis think that they can use Hindutva to push Hindi domination. But most Indian communities have in general better literature than Hindi (Braj would stand a better chance IMO), plus English is easily accessible which offers way, way more.

    The arguments about RJB and India’s economic growth make no sense. Phase shift in India’s economic growth began after independence, and the acceleration after 1985 built on the investments in the years before (dams, IITs): https://twitter.com/ChinmayTumbe/status/1179659815448014848/photo/1

    1. Nice tweet – the second graph is really nice.

      About Hindutva – I feel the best it achieves today is the counter to Caste divisions. But let us see how it proceeds

      1. Since Hindutva is fundamentally a project of asserting dominance, I doubt it will lead to reconfiguration of caste attitudes, especially among the dominant peasant castes like the Thakurs and Jats towards the Dalits.

        The insecurities of these landed communities has deep structural roots. But Hindutva can express a consensus among non-Muslim communities towards a practice of Islam which basically opposes the outlines of the Indian Constitution.

    2. @Vikram

      That chart says nothing about the regional variations. Absolutely nothing was happening in North India all the way till the 1990s – the acronym BIMARU was not coined for nothing. Only RJB made it possible for a alternative governance position.

      Believe it or not, in the year 1998, the Congress manifesto for Gujarat state elections promised 12 hours of electricity (!!) Modi also recounts this in his famous Aap ki Adalat interview – he says people in cities would ask him to provide electricity at least during dinnertime. If this was the case for Gujarat, you can imagine UP and Bihar.

      RJB provided an alternative world view, governance and value system to the North Indian electorate from the hole of communal secularism, caste politics and institutionalised corruption. Have you heard Advani’s speeches during the Rath Yatra? It was not just the temple but also Ramrajya. And voters were only too clear about what was the proposition.

      I reiterate again – just as the French revolution was more than bread and cakes, RJB is more than a single temple. Only the historically blind (or the motivated) reduce it to mythology and riots.

      1. Ugra, not sure if you’d agree, but it’s interesting to see RJB as a response to a long developing legitimation crisis of the nehruvian state. What seemed cynically opportunistic to them was to others perhaps the only hope to even begin a process of restoring civic morality. Bimaru, if it lacks an oppositional identity to the centre like the peripheral linguistic states, would probably confront the hollowness of secular civic nationalism earlier and seek to sanctify state authority through idealizations like ram rajya. I doubt that any stable nation can exist without a collective idea of the sacred.

        1. girmit, you couldn’t put it more succinctly – indeed RJB was a challenge to the legitimacy of the Nehruvian state. And RJB was long foretold by the rebelling intelligentsia in popular culture. Not just Bollywood, but also in the avant garde space.

          I was shocked into contemplation by one such movie – Nishant (1975) – directed by Shyam Benegal, written by Vijay Tendulkar and starring all the leading liberals of the day – Girish Karnad, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Anant Nag, Om Puri, Mohan Agashe.

          GK is a suave, rational man newly assigned as a headmaster to a feudal village. His wife is Sushila (Shabana) and they have one son. The zamindar in the village, Om Puri, has 3 brothers, all of whose only business is collecting rents and exploiting every villager in sight. They also prey on the married women of the village, not the unmarried ones, and bring the women to their mansion to spend the nights. The villagers are all forced cuckolds – they grit their teeth and bear it.

          One of the 3 brothers alone is married, Naseeruddin Shah (to Smita Patil) and he alone does not take part in the whoring. But one day, he sees Sushila and falls for her. He asks his brothers to bring her to the mansion. They kidnap Sushila to the mansion and force her before Naseeruddin’s turn. N does not want to let her go back and she is now their property in the mansion.

          Meanwhile the stricken husband, GK, goes from the police to the judiciary to the media all of whom fail to help him in even filing a case. He is now effectively a forced widower and he learns to do all the household chores in addition to taking care of his 6 year old son. He approaches the temple priest for help who neither refuses nor concedes. In the meantime, Sushila has developed feelings for Naseeruddin at the mansion and cohabits with him of her volition. She only yearns to meet her son.

          But one day, at a Ramkatha, the villagers (including GK) laugh at the scene when Sita is carried away by Ravana. The priest berates the villagers and reminds them that is Adharma – not their laughing, but the act of breaking the sacredness of a marriage contract.

          A few months later, we are shown a procession of idols that goes from the temple to the farms and back to the temple. The Zamindar and his brothers, along with Smita Patil and Sushila get ready to come down to offer their obeisance. At that minute, the villagers (along with GK), in a cold blooded act, start clubbing Om Puri and the brothers to death. They then chase Naseeruddin and Sushila up a hilltop where they are also done to death. GK then walks to the hilltop to see his wife’s corpse.

          If you see the screenplay and the centrality of the sacred to the restoration of Dharma in a lawless and chaotic land, then perhaps the tenet of Vishnu is made very clear – paritranaya sadhunam, vinasaya ca duskrtam, dharma-samsthapanarthaya, sambhavami yuge yuge.

          1. Many years ago I came across an obituary article about a Bihari politician on Times of India website. The comments section was inundated with English speaking Indians celebrating the death of a ‘corrupt politician’. The handful of commenters who actually knew the guy and the work he did tried to reason with the mob, but to no avail.

            I stopped taking stuff like Nishant, Shool and Paatal Lok seriously a long time ago. We need to be able to separate the structural from the contingent. This is hard because it is invariably the contingent that makes a good story and evokes an emotional response. Daniel Kahneman has shown that our brain is much better at remembering in such circumstances.

            It is the dynastic politics of the Congress and other Indian parties which led to their weakening. Talented politicians know that the max they can be in these parties is a petty cabinet minister, cleaning up for chote baba. If BJP goes in the same direction (which it is, apart from the very top: https://theprint.in/politics/bjps-ticket-distribution-in-mp-clearly-shows-party-indulging-in-dynasty-politics/147869/), it will meet the same fate.

            I think this tension between the dynastic proclivities in Indian politics and the BJP’s meritocratic claims explains Modi’s highly centralized approach to leadership. Once the gaze goes beyond the PM and his coteries, the dynasts in the BJP will become much more visible.

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